Between the 22 combined championships in Chicago and Los Angeles, there's no adulation for a star who fails to deliver a title. The Knicks have gone 40 years without a parade – and could go another 40 without one – and still Anthony would forever be treated with a level of reverence in New York. There are no beloved ex-Hall of Famers like Patrick Ewing and Bernard King in L.A. and Chicago – just players who won championships, and just those long ago forgotten.
For those who think 'Melo's burden has left him too beleaguered in New York, it could be far worse elsewhere. Knicks ownership has turned the franchise over to him, and that'll only escalate in free agency. Whatever he wants, they'll give him. Owner Jim Dolan let him run out Mike D'Antoni and Jeremy Lin, let him have his eccentric workout coach on staff for a significant six-figure salary. They've centered the marketing on him; his Jordan Brand Nike deal is worth a mint in a Knicks uniform. In the end, this is the essence of Carmelo Anthony: a peerless scorer deserving of holding the franchise's and arena's forever records.
Every generation has its stars who were spectacular, but never complete enough to be the centerpiece of a champion. There's no shame there. This was a night when 'Melo's legacy as a scoring ace delivered him into the brightest light of this season, on basketball's most glorious stage at the Garden.
For all the noise and all the love washing down upon him, Carmelo Anthony needed to understand that for his own good, his legacy, there's nowhere better for a ring-less superstar on a max scholarship than beneath those dusty, old championship banners from so long ago. This was 'Melo's night, his forever moment at Madison Square Garden. For him, there should be nowhere else.